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President of National Guard Association of California

National Guard Association of California
3336 Bradshaw Rd. Suite 230
Sacramento, CA 95827-2615
Phone (916) 362-3411
Fax (916) 362-3707

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the California National Guard or of any agency of the U.S. government.

October 24, 2015

Dear :

You probably saw the recent LA Times article on bonus repayments being demanded of California Army National Guard soldiers who signed contracts in good faith and did their part by continuing to serve, in many cases including deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

As President of the National Guard Association of California, a 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that promotes the interests of veterans and members of the California National Guard, I am writing to ask you to find a legislative fix for this debacle.  The errors lay primarily within the Headquarters of the California National Guard.  The cost of these errors should not be borne by soldiers who were led to believe they were agreeing to valid contracts with the U.S. Army and who subsequently fulfilled their part of the bargain.

Please consider introducing or co-sponsoring legislation that requires the DoD and its components to accomplish the following before demanding recoupment of any enlistment, reenlistment, extension, or occupational specialty bonus that was paid on January 1, 2006 or thereafter. For purposes of this Act, student loan payments by the Service will be considered the same as a bonus:

a) in the case of allegations of non-performance, obtain a signed statement from a commanding officer in the service member's chain of command at least at the grade of O-6, after notifying the service member and allowing at least 120 days for the member to respond and provide evidence that the required service was fulfilled, that the service member failed to perform duty per the relevant bonus contract.

b) in the case of bonus contracts being subsequently found invalid, in every individual case require the appointment of an investigating officer in accordance with the relevant Service regulations who, prior to recoupment action being taken, must find that a preponderance of evidence shows that the service member did not sign the contract in good faith or provided false information relevant to the contract and obtain in writing the concurrence of such finding by a general or flag officer in the service member's chain of command.

c) upon enactment, all bonus recoupment actions shall immediately be suspended until the actions required by sections a) and b) above have been fulfilled.

d) in cases where a service contract was subsequently found invalid and the service member has fully or partially paid the recoupment, the Service shall automatically return the funds that have been recouped within one year of enactment of this bill unless the requirements of section b) above have been fulfilled. For any period, later than one-year after enactment, the Service shall also pay interest at a rate equal to rate charged on Federal Direct Student Loans as of the date of enactment.

e) in cases where a Service has already waived or otherwise relieved the service member of full recoupment, this act shall not apply. In cases were recoupment was partially waived, it shall only apply to that portion of the debt that has not been waived or otherwise relieved.

Please feel free to contact our office at the above address and phone number if you have any questions or need additional information.


John Haramalis


National Guard Association of California


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